Between Mom and Jo

Common Sense Media says

Tender tale about a boy whose moms split up.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
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15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Families can use this book to discuss their own feeling about gay families and what legal rights they would extend to them, if any.

Positive messages

Readers -- especially those who have seen their own parents split or divorce -- will especially relate to the a message here about learning to accept family as it changes.

Positive role models

Nick is a relatable character who cares deeply about both his mothers. He may not always act perfectly, but readers will understand how torn up he is and why he wants his old family back.

Violence

Not an issue.

Sex

Nick sees his mom in a long kiss; a babysitter asks if he has seen his moms having sex; some other general talk about sex, condoms, etc.

Language

Nick gets called homophobic names; lots of other words like "Jesus," "hell," "crap."

Consumerism

Some junk food like KFC, Red Bull, Coke, Jell-O

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Not glamorized: Jo is an alcoholic who gets drunk and makes a scene at Nick's birthday.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this book centers on a boy growing up with two moms. There is some heavy stuff: Jo is an alcoholic, Erin has breast cancer -- and then there is the main crisis: They split up, leaving Nick sad and angry (and Jo without any rights). There is some swearing, some mentions of junk food brands, and Nick has to deal with some harassment from his peers (and even one prejudiced teacher).
Readers --
especially those who have seen their own parents split or divorce --
will especially relate to the a message here about learning to accept
family as it changes. 

Parents say

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Kids say

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What's the story?

Nick loves his practical birth mom, Erin, and her crude partner Jo, so when they split up, he feels torn in two. Especially when his mom refuses to let him see Jo, who has no legal rights to him.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Told in flashbacks, this book will certainly give readers the sense of how much Nick loves both his mothers -- practical Erin, his birth mother, and her rather crude partner, Jo. They will also get a strong sense of how complicated the women are, especially Jo, who struggles with alcoholism. This is a book about a kid with gay parents, certainly. Nick not only endures teasing from his peers, he must deal with a prejudiced teacher. Also, when his moms break up, Jo is left without any legal rights to Nick. But more than anything, this is a book about a family that falls apart.

Like all families, they share many small moments together (eating watermelon in the backyard) and are there for each other in the big moments (dealing with Erin's breast cancer). The author's careful rendering of their memories -- complete with very real, fast-moving dialog -- makes it easy to understand why Nick is so devastated when they split. Readers will certainly empathize with Nick when he prays into the night, "Jo, please...Hear me. Come and get me. Give us back our life."

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about other books and media about gay families. Do you think that these books are only helpful to kids like Nick growing up with gay parents -- or do kids with straight parents have something to gain from them too? 

  • Also, were you surprised by the harassment that Nick faced? Does that seem realistic given what you see at your own school?

Book details

Author:Julie Anne Peters
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:April 1, 2008
Number of pages:240
Publisher's recommended age(s):12
Read aloud:12
Read alone:12

This review of Between Mom and Jo was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bymoviemadness April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Inspiring Tale

This book points out that the right way is not always immediately apparent. Jo, Mom, and Nick are all believable characters. There is a bit of iffy content about sex discussions, gay slurs, and alcoholism. Altogether, the book portrays the family so honestly that you feel like you're part of it. Wonderful book.

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